Press Release: U.N. Calls for Immediate Release of Disappeared and Tortured Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng
Posted by Author on March 28, 2011
(The freedom Now) Washington, D.C.: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called on the government “to proceed to an immediate release of Mr. Zhisheng Gao and provide for reparation of the harm caused” by his illegal detention. The Chinese government began targeting Gao after he began representing religious minorities in politically sensitive cases. In retaliation for this work, the government revoked his law license, shuttered his law firm, and placed his family under intense surveillance.
Repeatedly detained, the government brutally tortured Gao in 2007 and 2010. He has now been held completely incommunicado since April 2010 and his current whereabouts are unknown. The UN judgment, was made public for the first time today. Gao’s wife, Geng He, published an op-ed in The New York Times. In her piece, she says: “The Chinese government must not be allowed to claim that China is a nation operating under the rule of law, while persecuting those who try to ensure that it respects the law.”
The UN Working Group held that the detention violated international law because Gao’s disappearance was punishment for exercising his fundamental human rights and because the government failed to meet even the minimum international standards for due process. The UN Working Group is composed of independent experts in human rights and international law from Senegal, Pakistan, Chile, Norway, and Ukraine and is charged with adjudicating complaints regarding arbitrary detention worldwide.
Maran Turner, Executive Director of Freedom Now, the legal advocacy organization that submitted the petition on Gao’s behalf, welcomed the decision. “We are heartened by the UN Working Group’s judgment, but remain very worried about Gao due to the history of torture in his case,” she said. “China must adhere to the rule of law by immediately reappearing Gao and allowing him to reunite with his family. The international community must use this finding by an independent United Nations body to pressure the Chinese government to meet its international obligations and respect the fundamental rights of its citizens.”
March 28, 2011
Contact: Maran Turner
+1 (646) 596-5064
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